Beijing bans indoor dining at restaurants during holidays to stem Covid outbreak

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Restaurants in Beijing have been ordered to close dine-in services over the May holiday as the Chinese capital grapples with a COVID-19 outbreak.

Authorities told a news conference on Saturday that eating in restaurants had become an infection risk, citing virus transmissions between diners and staff.

Restaurants have been ordered to only provide take-out services from Sunday to Wednesday, during China’s Labor Day holiday.

Beijing began mass testing millions earlier this week as it scrambled to stamp out a growing COVID-19 outbreak.

See also: China manufacturing weakens further as Covid lockdowns slow economy

The political stakes are high as the ruling Communist Party prepares for a major congress this fall in which President Xi Jinping seeks a third five-year term to reassert his position as China’s undisputed leader.

Beijing authorities reported 67 new infections on Saturday, bringing the city’s total to nearly 300 since April 22.

Authorities also ordered parks, scenic areas and entertainment venues to operate halfway during the holiday period. Schools have also been ordered to close.

Several communities in Chaoyang District, the city’s most populous, have been designated high-risk areas and will undergo mass testing on Sunday and Tuesday.

Beijing is trying to prevent a massive outbreak that could trigger a citywide lockdown like the one that paralyzed Shanghai for more than three weeks. Millions of residents have been confined there and food has sometimes run out, drawing heavy criticism despite government efforts to censor it.

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